So, you’ve asked Uncle Google for help in finding a development partner by feeding him search terms like “software agency” and “mobile app developers”. Along with his dentures, he spat out results like, “Work with the Best Software Agency” and “Hire Top-Notch App Developers.” Once you’ve waded through the ads that inevitably top the list of results, you browsed through countless top-ten lists full of design and development companies all claiming to be the best! Ugh! Why does it need to be so hard?
Well, the reason is there is a lot of competition for your attention. That first impression is key to marketing and sales. We know, because it’s the nature of any marketing and service business... and we do it here at Salsita, too.
But obviously, when making the critical business decision of selecting a partner, you shouldn’t take our word for it—or the word of any agency—and accept our marketing claims without doing your own due diligence. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide for choosing your ideal software agency partner. With a little preparation and effort, you’ll be able to find the perfect partner.
Seek and you shall find
Your best-fit agency is out there. Perhaps it was right in front of you the whole time and you missed it as you scrolled further into Google obscurity. Or it could have been one of the websites you dug up during your search. But how do you know which one to trust? How do you save time so you can get started with your project?
Before you begin searching, make sure you know what you need. Put together a list of project requirements and describe your business problems. Make it clear enough that potential agencies can come back to you with a solid quote.
“Resist the temptation to come up with a solution yourself -- it should be the vendor's responsibility.” - Forbes
Eliminate and move on
So, you’ve selected a few candidates and you feel ready to contact some promising software agencies. Before you start inquiring, be aware that their sales team may be unleashed upon you and your organization like a biblical plague. This is normal, but the idea is to lessen their representative’s back-and-forth approach. The method outlined below will save you time when choosing a trusted software partner.
Step 1: Services, solutions and industries
Focus on the details of their services and solutions page. If they don’t mention anything related to your project’s needs, it means they can’t do what you need, or they don’t like doing it. If they pass this initial step, see if they’ve worked with clients within your industry. This is a big advantage, but not a show-stopper
Step 2: Testimonials, clients and projects
Next, look at their client quotes and investigate that client on LinkedIn. Ask yourself, “Is this person legit?” See which kind of projects they’ve worked on, how they managed them, and go through their case studies. It’s not important to find projects in their portfolio that are identical to yours. Every app is unique. What matters is if they have successful ongoing projects.
Step 3: Reputation, ratings and reviews
Another website to use during your investigation is Clutch. It’s a ratings and reviews site of leading IT, marketing, and business services companies. Here you can search your potential software partner and see what other companies have said about working with them.
The ratings are important, but you should look for how clients have answered the “How could they be improved” question. This is usually asked by an analyst who had interviewed the client that submitted the review. This question gives you a sense of what their weaknesses are. Plus, you will have an idea about the vendor’s price range and team size. Since the cost and length of their projects are listed on their profiles, you can see what they can deliver, how long it takes, and for how much.
Step 4: Teams, management and culture
At this point, you’ve narrowed down your choice of vendors. Now it’s time to look at the human side of their business. Start at the “About” page. Don’t hesitate to go one step further, beyond LinkedIn, and see what they do on social media. Finally, read their blog, focusing on what they’ve published about their culture, the industry, and technology, and see if there’s a connection to your business and vision.
When you contact them, you will realize few things from their initial responses:
- An automated response means they are too busy, which is good, but not if you want to start your project now.
- A customized template means they have looked you up but might lack the capacity to take on new projects unless your project is particularly interesting to them in terms of budget and experience.
- A custom email about your project shows they’re interested. If you feel good about the initial responses, have a call with them, tell them about your ideas, and see how they interact.
Since very few of these agencies made it through all the stages, one is likely to be your best fit. But, you need to find out if they are into you as well. You want to know that they are willing to commit to your project. It's like dating, so feel free to date around a bit. See how it goes from there, let your heart and mind be the judge.
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